Facing Bach's St. Matthew Passion, I often feel a combination of anticipation and dread. It's a great work, profound in its humanity and spirituality, with sublimely beautiful music. But it's a long haul, and if it's not a good performance, well, I'm stuck. And it can be not-good in various ways: either too solemnly pious or too much an exercise in musical style rather than emotional drama. A new DVD recorded in 2010 at Berlin's great concert hall, the Philharmonie, would be of major interest under any circumstances.
Jazz bassist and bandleader Linda Oh says her new album, Initial Here, is an exploration of her heritage. She was born in Malaysia to Chinese parents, but as a toddler, she moved with her family to Australia.
Oh started taking piano lessons there when she was 4. Music was just a hobby back then, but once her uncle strapped a bass guitar around her neck, that's when she fell in love.
Oh cut her teeth playing bass in both jazz and rock bands all over her hometown of Perth in Western Australia.
American soprano Evelyn Lear — whose roles ranged from title role in Berg's Lulu to Mozart to Sondheim — died at age 86 Monday at a nursing home, though the cause was not announced. (Her late husband of more than fifty years, the bass-baritone Thomas Stewart, died six years ago.)
I discovered Nina Simone through the back door. I would like to claim that I grew up on her classic songs, like "Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood," "Four Women" and "Mississippi Goddam." But I didn't. Like so many of my generation, I found her through hip-hop loops and samples.
Cassandra Wilson was once described by Time magazine as "America's best singer." Wilson was born in segregated Mississippi — also the birthplace of the blues — but she's always been on a journey to explore other sounds and influences.